Posted by: dinainsuburbia | June 16, 2009

jam on it

Saturday marked the annual strawberry picking-jam making marathon that I do once strawberry season hits here on Long Island.  This year we went back to Fritz-Lewin Farms in Calverton; the prices are very reasonable, the field is big, and the staff is friendly.  Picking strawberries is hard work- the berries are super low to the ground and hidden amongst weeds and flowers; you really have to squat down low and move all the weeds/flowers out of the way to get to the berries.   

It took us about an hour to pick 8 quarts of berries between the 3 of us- although I’m sure Maddie ate much more than she picked (and most of the berries in her basket had bites taken out of them).

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Once home, I started the jam making process.  The strawberries were so ripe, they needed to be processed into jam right away (or frozen); I didn’t see them lasting too long at all.  I used the same recipe I used last year- except this year I tweaked it with a little added lemon zest.  I use a ratio of 2:1, strawberries to sugar.  The most strawberries I recommend doing at in one batch is about 6 cups.  The full 8 quarts of strawberries yielded 13 half-pint jars of jam.

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As the berries were so ripe, I found it took about 45 minutes of slow simmering for the jam to set (way longer than the 18-20 minutes suggested in the “official” recipe). Even though the jam does set- it isn’t firm like jelly- there is no added pectin in the jam, and I like the freshness of a jam with only 3 ingredients: berries, sugar, and lemon juice.  

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 6-7 cups of strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced
  • 2 1/2 – 3 cups of white sugar
  • 1/4- 1/3 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • zest of one lemon

TOOLS:

  • canning pot or large stock pot fitted with a round cake cooling rack
  • tongs
  • 5-6 half-pint ball jars (or 2-3 pint jars) with lids & rings
  • funnel
  • 2 saucers (put in freezer- more on this later)
  • small pot with hot water for lids

DIRECTIONS:

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Combine sliced strawberries, lemon juice, zest and sugar in a large bowl and allow to macerate for two hours (I add the sugar a little at a time- makes it easier to stir together).

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In saucepan bring berry mixture up to a boil and reduce heat to medium and simmer for approximately 20-45 minutes (the more ripe the fruit, the longer it will take to set).  Once set, remove from heat and allow to sit for about 4-5 minutes to allow any foam to come to the top- skim off foam prior to processing.

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While the jam is simmering, wash the jars, lids, and rings in hot soapy water and get your water to a rolling boil in your stock pot.  Once boiling, I like to put the lids and jars in the boiling water for 5 minutes to make sure they’re sterile, and to bring the jars to temperature (you don’t want to put magma-hot jam in cool jars- asking for a cracking).  

To test the jam, pull one of the saucers out of the freezer and place a teaspoon of jam on the cold saucer- return to freezer for one minute.  After a minute, push the jam with your finger, if done, the surface of the jam will wrinkle.  

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Once done, fill the jars with jam and process in the boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  Make sure there’s at least 1 1/2″- 2″ of water covering the jars.  Also, make sure you have the cake cooling rack, or extra jar rings, at the bottom of the pot- you don’t want the jars touching the bottom of the pot.  

Allow the jars to cool overnight.  Once cool, check the seal by pressing the lid- there should be no movement and the lid should be depressed.  If they don’t  seal properly, don’t fret- refrigerate and eat within 2 weeks (although, I will say following the above directions I’ve never once had a dud).  

I know it seems like a lot of work, but once you get the hang of it it’s very easy (and very impressive- friends and family will think you’re something out of Little House).

 

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Responses

  1. I love strawberry jam. And I so wish we had a u-pick farm near me. Alas I have to buy it at the grocery store. The next best thing I guess.

    My Rhubarb is ready so I bought strawberries at the store this morning. I think I’ll try something new. Strawberry rhubarb.

  2. Hi Dina my name is Lisa Lewin , I wanted to thank you for mentioning our farm in your blog ……..I hope you come back year after year for our berries 😉 I’m sure your jam was delicious 😉


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